Director Column

IBC director's monthly column featured in Cattleman Magazine. Archives

Denise Schwab in The Cattleman Magazine

Denise Schwab, interim IBC director


November 2023

With harvest wrapping up and winter just around the corner, now is a good time to also wrap up your winter feeding plans. Both the Iowa Beef Center and ICA are featuring feed quality, forage quantity and ration planning programs in the next couple months. Check out our websites to find a location near you to learn more about meeting the nutritional needs of the cow herd this winter and the effects the drought had on forage quality in Iowa.

This month I’d like to feature our Northwest beef specialist, Beth Doran. Beth grew up in Boone County. Like most of us, she started by showing cattle in 4-H with her family. At that time the Doran family had registered Hereford and Shorthorn breeding cattle, and later expanded into other breeds and market cattle as well. Many of us know that showing cattle was a real family affair for the Dorans, and Beth has many great memories of those days.

Beth took a bit of a round-about path to her current position. She initially received a bachelor’s in science from Iowa State in home economics education and started as a 4-H & Youth Leader in Bremer and Chickasaw Counties before realizing her home was really in agriculture. She then went back to ISU and received a bachelor’s in Animal Science, and a master’s and doctorate in Animal Nutrition from Oklahoma State University. Her research there focused on feedlot nutrition looking at grain type and processing on starch and protein digestion. After graduating Beth started as an extension livestock agent in the Thumb area of Michigan. This area had a lot of dairy steer production as it was ranked as the #1 and #2 dairy counties in the state.

After five years in Michigan, Beth had the opportunity to return to Iowa in 1993 as the beef specialist for northwest Iowa. Initially she served 6 counties, and is now covering 17 counties. Beth has a long list of annual programs such as training feedlot operators on the Open Feedlot Plan, evaluating deep-bedded monoslope air quality, numerous feed research projects and lots of 4-H beef workshops. She still loves working with youth and has helped interview for the ICA/Iowa State Fair beef heifer awards for several years. Beth said, “These youth are very knowledgeable about the beef industry and assure me that the future of the beef industry is bright!” But her best known program is the Feedlot Forum she has coordinated for 20 years with the help of several cattlemen’s associations in northwest Iowa.

Like many Extension staff, Beth is motivated by the people she works with, both staff and producers. She is a role model and mentor for many new staff in northwest Iowa, and is extremely well respected by ‘her producers’, as she calls the cattlemen she works with. “Every day they challenge me to make my best better!” Beth shared that the two biggest highlights of her career were co-judging showmanship at the Ak-Sar-Ben Livestock Exposition and co-Judging the Governor’s Charity Steer Show at the Iowa State Fair.

Beth also received the BQA Educator of the Year several years ago, and she will be holding a BQA Certification Workshop on November 16 from 1-3 p.m. at the Western Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm near Castana. Be sure to check your BQA Certificate expiration date soon to ensure you are ready the next time you sell cattle. 2024 will be a big year for recertifying producers.

The IBC at Iowa State University serves as the university’s extension program to cattle producers. Our center comprises a team of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. We work together to develop and deliver the latest in research-based information to improve the profitability and vitality of Iowa’s beef industry. If you’d like to be notified of updates on progress of research projects or programs that might be coming to your area, please subscribe to our “Growing Beef” newsletter by following the link on our website, If you have a question, use our “Ask our Experts” link. Also, feel free to call us at 515-294-BEEF or email us at You can follow @iowabeefcenter on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.